Origin Energy is one of Australia’s leading energy companies with a mission to make energy easier, smarter and cleaner for our 4 million customers. As a major energy company, we have a critical role in delivering energy today through our interests in retail, generation and upstream exploration and production, and finding and developing the energy solutions of the future, from big batteries and green hydrogen to storage and orchestration.
With energy networks globally fast evolving from centralised to decentralised with two-way flows of electrons and fast-growing levels of decentralised resources, one of the biggest opportunities to make our energy system cleaner and more efficient is to harness data to better manage all the energy in the grid.
Australia has the highest rooftop solar penetration rates in the world and a market where customers are hungry to know how they can use energy more efficiently, reduce their costs and reduce their emissions at the same time.
Since helping to establish Free Electrons five years ago, Origin has met with start-ups from around the world, helping them to develop and take their ideas to the next level.
Most recently, we launched Australia’s first mass-market demand response program, Origin Spike, with one of the start-ups we met through Free Electrons in 2017, US-based OhmConnect. Spike is a gamified experience which invites customers to take part in demand response events, earning rewards for saving energy and allowing them to play a direct role in easing pressure on the grid during extreme events such as heatwaves and avoiding blackouts.
Following rolling blackouts during the California heatwaves last summer, OhmConnect paid 150,000 customers US$300,000 to reduce their usage in a single day, acting like an extra power station and reducing the strain on the grid by reducing their usage in a coordinated way. Since launching in August 2020, more than 30,000 customers have signed up to Origin Spike, with around 70 per cent of customers taking part in each Spike hour and each reducing their energy by an average of 50 per cent.
Start-ups taking part in Free Electrons have the chance to be mentored and coached by the world’s leading utilities, trial their idea with customers, progress to a commercial stage, and attract investment.
“Since the commencement of Free Electrons 2017, we have met hundreds of start-ups from around the world each with an idea to make energy easier, smarter or cleaner for customers,” Origin’s Executive General Manager, Future Energy & Technology, Tony Lucas, said.
“Free Electrons gives start-ups the opportunity to work with major leading global energy utilities but also gives us an opportunity to think outside the box – exposure to a world of new ideas will help us drive innovation as data and energy continue to converge and completely change the way our customers use and engage with energy.”